Useful Bible Studies > 1 Kings Commentary > chapter 18

Why did Baal not send fire?

1 Kings 18:27

Israel’s priests offered an animal as a sacrifice to God each morning and evening. It seems that there may have been a similar custom in the religion of Baal. That would explain why the events at midday were so important.

At noon, the false god Baal had still not sent fire to accept the morning sacrifice to him. That caused his prophets, the people who had given themselves completely to Baal, to become desperate. It was no longer morning, and Baal had not received the usual morning sacrifice. The prophets probably felt afraid that Baal was angry with them.

Elijah, the prophet (holy man) of the true God, offered them other explanations. Baal was not like the true God, who never sleeps (Psalm 121:3-4). So perhaps, like a person, Baal must sleep. Or perhaps, like a great king, Baal was too busy to listen to their requests for him to act. There is no place where the true God is not present (Psalm 139:7-10). So, perhaps Baal must sometimes travel from his home in the spirit world to other places (compare Job 1:7).

Certainly, if Baal were really a god, he should hear and answer prayers. Already, 450 of his prophets were shouting out his name. The noise must have been considerable. Perhaps they were not loud enough, Elijah claimed. If they shouted even louder, maybe Baal could hear them, he said.

Of course, Elijah did not believe that Baal really was a god. He believed in the one true God (Deuteronomy 6:4) – the same God whom the religion of Baal considered their enemy.

Next part: Magic in religion (1 Kings 18:28-29)


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